The recent discovery that Amazon now sell more eBooks than physical books led me to wonder whether we are creating a digital library of unread books.
Downloading is easy, be it books or music. It’s one, maybe two clicks and they’re yours. Rarely have you taken days or weeks of researching, of visiting a shop and browsing through the shelves and options. It is quite often an impulse decision – at least three in my Twitter network (including me) downloaded a couple of Black Keys albums this weekend as we watched them live on BBCs Reading Festival coverage.
Hey, they sound good; I don’t have any of their stuff.
Someone recommends a book or a song and we download it. C’mon don’t say you haven’t done it!
But do we relate to these in the same way? Has the digital availability of cultural artefacts led to an ownership vs consumption conundrum? Or does the ubiquity of the hardware/software – eg a kindle, a kindle app on the iPhone and on the iPad – mean that we now have so many ways of consuming what we have bought that we consume even more than before?
But if we think – ‘yes, I’ll get that’ – and then click, click, we have it…do we feel the same way? Have we invested enough of ourselves in that acquisition? And how many times do we buy more than we would if the purchase was of the physical copies.
There’s nothing to beat the feel of a book, the smell of a book, holding it and flicking through the pages. If you’re not reading it you can hear the book shouting at you…read me. READ ME!
Music is a bit different – the shift from vinyl to CD clearly signalled a change in the relationship between album and owner – yet even now some are feeling nostalgic towards the CD.
In the early days of iPod most of the conversation was around what songs and albums you should have…rarely did the conversation seem centred on what to listen to. Similarly with the Kindle I hear many talk about what books they should have, or need to get.
Yet I’m still not so sure. I see a definite shift in language away from consumption and towards ownership and I wonder if it is driven by the manner of acquisition.
So I’m throwing it open. Tell me if your iPods and e-Readers are cluttered with things you’ve bought but rarely listen to or read. Or do you find you consume even more?